If you’re looking to take your performance, core stability, and overall strength to the next level, then look no further than the farmer’s carry. While the movement is simple, it is extremely effective and often underrated. Let's dig into the tips and tricks on how to master the farmer’s carry workout for better athletic performance.
What Is A Farmer’s Carry
A farmer’s carry workout, aka the farmer’s walk, is just that, a carry. While the movement is typically utilized or publicized by strongman competitions, just about anyone, anywhere, with anything, can do a farmer’s carry. The exercise itself is performed by picking up two weights, either of equal weight or contralateral distributions, and walking in a controlled manner for a designated distance.
Farmer’s Carry Benefits
The farmer’s carry, farmer’s walk, and loaded walks are wonderful ways to increase overall stability, strength, and improve exercise conditioning. Whether you’re looking to become a better competitor in your sport or just looking to carry a bunch of groceries without feeling like you’re going to fall over, you can perform the farmer’s carry and reap the farmer’s carry benefits with just about any type of equipment. You’re going to feel improvements in balance, mind muscle connection, muscles worked, cardiovascular health, aerobic capacity, grip strength, and endurance.
Farmer’s Carry Muscles Worked
Upper Body Muscles Worked
From the traps to the back muscles, to the biceps, forearms, hand muscles, to the lower back muscles and core, performing the Farmer’s Carry is going to really going to activate and engage a wide variety of muscles in the upper body. When gripping the item (dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.) and holding that grip for a distance, the flexors of the forearms and the biceps are actively engaged to stabilize the weight in the hand. When you’re challenging yourself with staying upright and taking controlled steps over a specific distance, the bigger muscles in the upper body like the core and back muscles, stabilize the spine, support posture, and help us to not topple over.
In Short: upper back and traps, abdominals, biceps, triceps, forearms, lats and erectors
Lower Body Muscles Worked
While you might be holding the weight with your hands and upper body, the lower body is going to be responsible for providing additional stability, strength, and the ability to put one foot in front of the other, quite literally. From activating knee extension with the quads and hips, to performing knee flexion and hip extension with he hamstrings, the lower body is greatly depended upon for the farmer’s carry movement. The glutes help with the extension of the hip joint and the calves work as supporting muscles in the balancing act.
In Short: calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads
How To Do The Farmer’s Carry
You can use a wide variety of weights or pieces of equipment to effectively perform the farmer’s carry and to reap the benefits. The goal is not to walk super fast, but to walk in a controlled manner, with heavy weight. If you’re brand new to the movement, start with light weight, good posture and form, and work your way up from there. One of the biggest goals with this movement though is that it should be challenging, not a farmer’s walk ‘in the park’ so to speak.
To do the farmer’s carry, you’re going to first need to establish what you’re going to carry. For most, this will be dumbbells, plates, kettlebells, or if you’re lucky enough to have access to them, farmers carry walk handles.
- Start in the standing position with your weights to the side of your body. Shoulders should be over the feet.
- Squat down like you’re going to deadlift, with your hands to the side, chest up, shoulders back.
- Grab your weights firmly, stand straight up, and while maintaining tight core and active shoulders, set your eyes forward and begin to take small controlled steps, trying not to use the side-to-side bobbing motion to create momentum to move forward.
- Perform the walk for 20’ - 50’, set your equipment down, take a quick break, then repeat.
Farmer’s Carry Equipment
Just about anything can be considered ‘farmer’s carry equipment’, even rocks or paint cans, but for the purpose of athletic performance there’s been a pretty big rise in designated farmer’s carry equipment on the market. Keep in mind you don’t need to go above and beyond to get something to carry 25’ and back, so before you blow your wad on some expensive steel, take a look around the house and in nature to see what you can find there, first.
- Bumper Plates (these are especially good for grip strength)
- Farmer’s Walk Handles
- Upright Farmer’s Walk Handles
- Jerry Cans
- Rickshaw Farmer’s Handles
- Trap Bar
Farmer’s Carry: Takeaway
All in all, the farmer’s carry is a straightforward, underrated, and extremely effective movement to work on grip strength, full body strength, posture and stability. Regardless of what level of fitness you’re at, you (and I) can reap the benefits. You don’t need fancy gear, just something to pick up, hold onto, and carry. Easy peasy! But before you get too confident, keep in mind that the weight will get challenging so you will have to do a little work to earn these gains. Happy training.
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